Developing Productive Staffs Takes Critical Thinking

Media sales staffs are used to dealing with numbers that track their productivity, such as budgets, pipelines and close ratios. Journalists tend to abhor the idea.

Tracking the productivity of online journalists in a complex, well-managed environment is unavoidable. It?s by tracking the number of articles they manage and the page views they generate that managers can determine if they should hire more staff.

Imagine a site with a content staff of 10 that generates 10 million page views a month or a million PVs per staffer. Let?s assume about 1,000 stories a week ? mostly from the print side but some purely online ? automatically flow onto the site, with the biggest spike on Sundays. Among many duties, the staff produces original content, develops slide shows and is responsible for making sure all stories get on the site, flow into the proper sections, receive additional packaging, etc.

A new annual budget comes along with a 25 percent increase in revenue. Can ad rates go up 25 percent? Unlikely in this environment, but a rate increase can solve part of it. Can 25 percent more ad positions be created? Unlikely again, for most sites already have fleshed out their ad space. Other ideas are possible, but the obvious one is a major boost in page views, which will increase ad inventory at the same rate.

Let?s settle on a 20 percent increase in page views. You probably can?t make your content staff work 20 percent harder or put in six days a week. If you are convinced that they are fully productive, then the rational choice is a 20 percent increase in staff or two more full-time people in order to achieve the new PV target.

Those two new hires won?t join the others in checking the story flow. They must be focused on creating new content, sections and applications that will be major factors in boosting the site that extra 20 percent.

Tracking content staff productivity and developing well-defined job descriptions linked to those goals will go far in building a balanced and fairly managed online operation.

Continuous News Takes Continuous Practice

Managing staff that has covered mass murders, hurricanes, major riots and other major news events is educational about what it means to do continuous online news.

When a story that big breaks, sites immediately get pounded with traffic. People have heard only headlines about the story on TV and radio. They want details, as many as they can get, and they want them immediately.

TV station sites tend to be faster with updates but lighter on details. Newspapers are slower with updates but heavier on details. Both of these responses are typical for their respective cultures and approaches to content management. Continue reading “Continuous News Takes Continuous Practice”

Online-Only AEs Deliver Results

Newspaper Web sites that have at least one account executive dedicated to online sales have 87 percent higher online revenue than papers that rely solely on print AEs to sell online ads, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

In addition, 59 percent of the total revenue came from online-only ads, the NAA says. The association?s data comes from a recent Borrell Associates study.

While it is true that sites with dedicated online AEs deliver more revenue over time, it is worth noting that it doesn’t come easily for smaller newspaper Web sites — or any small site that can’t afford to hire a dedicated sales rep. Continue reading “Online-Only AEs Deliver Results”

Online Product Vendors a Mixed Blessing

Some online operations build everything from scratch, others buy most of what they need from vendors and naturally quite a few strike a balance between the two.

I have worked in operations with both extremes. They have left me convinced that striking a balance is the best way to go. Continue reading “Online Product Vendors a Mixed Blessing”